• Julianna Van Adrichem

Business lessons from a mission to find100% recycled content notebooks

Finally! I’ve found 100% recycled content notebooks in Guelph!!

I can be really tenacious sometimes, especially when it comes to sourcing products that align with my values. Last week I went on a mission to find 100% recycled notebooks, and eventually succeeded! I thought I’d share my story.

I use a notebook for all my business notes throughout the day and to keep track of my day’s priorities and ideas. Honestly, I've tried going without and working entirely digitally, but it just doesn't work for me!! When my last notebook was getting to the final page, I realized I couldn’t procrastinate any longer, I needed a new notebook.

So, I visited a big box office supply store in town, which previously had notebooks made from 80% sugarcane plant fibre waste that I really liked. Unfortunately, I discovered that those were discontinued due to a lack in demand! That was a little disappointing, and I wondered if they might have kept them in production if they had marketed them more. They still had a couple options, but those were only 30% recycled content, and like I said, I’m tenacious, and I wanted a notebook that I would feel good about!

I then went to the next likely store in Guelph. I actually bought one that I thought was fully recycled, took it home, and then realized that inside the cover it stated “cover: recycled cotton paper, wood pulp free” and the “120 lined pages: acid-free paper”– only the cover was recycled! So that got returned.

Around this point I did some research and found a company called Decomposition that sells 100% post-consumer waste recycled notebooks out of Buffalo. Awesome, I had a lead and something specific to recommend to stores I would be visiting.

I visited several other stores around Guelph where I would have expected to find recycled notebooks, with no luck. I was very grateful however, that the staff at these stores were open to the idea and interested to learn of Decomposition.

I nearly decided to start a distributorship!

At one point during the week, I asked my partner, “are you getting tired of hearing about notebooks?”, and he responded that he wasn’t, partly because it’s about the bigger picture, and that larger picture is important. At this point in the world, companies should have the sense of social responsibility to provide fully recycled options for all products! We are losing the earth’s forests at an alarming rate, and our landfills are filling up. Meanwhile, there is a huge source of wastepaper that could be recycled into new products and we have the technology and distribution systems to recycle them. It was this larger picture that kept me on my mission to find notebooks that I would feel good about. I wanted to vote for a sustainable future with my money!

The next day, I was chatting about my mission with the lovely barista at Planet Bean, and she told me that the Campus Coop Bookstore may have what I needed, so I had a next destination for my adventure. I called the Campus Coop Bookstore, and those angels told me that they actually DID have the Decomposition notebooks!! I was able to order from a huge selection online, and I picked up a couple books an hour later.


I was thinking about this experience. As a social enterprise, dedicated to serving other environmentally sustainable organizations, sticking to my values when sourcing materials helps me to feel more aligned and connected with my branding and mission, even if no one is around to see it as I work from home. When I’m tenacious about it, I reaffirm to myself the dedication I have to my values, I am driven to take further actions, and I find it very fulfilling.

Businesses can be a strong agent for social change. Many businesses owners believe that their purpose is to not just drive profits, but to be of environmental and social service to the world. In fact, B Corp was developed over a decade ago to recognize the efforts these businesses make. If you don’t yet have B Corp status, sourcing ethical and environmentally sustainable products can help you to be one small step closer to certification. If you don’t plan on getting B Corp certified, sourcing this way can be a reward in itself: it feels good knowing that you are making a difference.

Do you have a story of going to great lengths to sourcing an eco-friendly or ethical product that aligns with your businesses’ values? I’d honestly love to hear it, so please share!

Need some marketing help for your eco-friendly business from someone who will be dedicated, tenacious even, when it comes to finding the right solutions? DM me!

Through supporting ecologically minded businesses, I reach my goals of helping the environment and growing sustainability in our society.

Links of businesses mentioned:


Guelph Campus Co-op Bookstore:

Planet Bean:

Certified B. Corporation:

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